My research project focuses on the influences of dammed reservoirs on a river’s phosphorus (P) load and bioavailability.
The increasing frequency and severity of harmful algal blooms (HABs) in Lakes Erie and St Clair have been troubling developments in the past few decades, and excess loads of phosphorus (P) are considered to be a primary driver to this re-eutrophication. The Thames River, in southern Ontario, is the largest tributary P input to Lake Erie’s western basin from the Canadian side. Dammed reservoirs are known to attenuate P fluxes, however, the reservoir retention efficiencies for P reported in the literature are highly variable. The influence of three large reservoirs (Fanshawe, Pittock, and Wildwood) on P loads of the Upper Thames River are currently poorly constrained both seasonally and annually due to a lack of primary data.
The objectives of my project are to 1) determine the annual and seasonal retention efficiency of P at Fanshawe Reservoir using mass balance approaches, 2) to determine the changes to P bioavailability within Fanshawe Reservoir by collecting water samples biweekly at different locations of the reservoir, and 3) to establish the primary mechanisms behind retention and mobilization of P using laboratory-controlled core incubation experiments.
By achieving these objectives, I hope to gain a better understanding of reservoirs’ influences on the timing, quantity, and bioavailability of Thames River’s P load delivery, in hopes to provide recommendations for reservoir management to maximize net P retention to ultimately reduce eutrophication symptoms in Lake St Clair and Erie.
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